Monday, July 14, 2014

Meet Our Customers:

We talked with Fabrizio Capobianco, Founder and CEO of, the company behind an innovative Lightstreamer-powered second screen application. apps allow people to talk with friends while watching sports events like FIFA World Cup on TV. We recently discussed about TOK apps here, and showed how they work here.

Fabrizio is a true industry veteran and serial entrepreneur. As an advisory board member at M31 USA and Mind the Bridge Foundation, he is helping Italian tech startups to succeed in Silicon Valley. In 1995 he launched and lead to success Internet Graffiti, the first Italian Web Company, developing many Internet projects and web sites as CTO. Besides, Fabrizio is in charge as President and Chairman of Funambol, which he founded in 2003 and guided to be one of the leading personal cloud companies in the world. He cooperated with Wireless magazine in writing the "Wireless Valley" column, among many other things.

Let’s talk about your organization. What is your core business?

" is the social TV company behind TOK Baseball, TOK Football, TOK World Cup and Juventus Live, the first voice enabled second screen apps that allow up to four friends to talk – not write about sports events. These apps allow people to rediscover the fun of experiencing sports on TV together while seeing real-time stats and game news. Besides sports, we launched TOK for Oscars on February 2013, allowing friends to comment the Academy Awards ceremony and follow what is happening in real-time. mainly operates from the Silicon Valley, but keeps its R&D labs in Italy."

Could you let us know any further information?

"Our apps have been downloaded by nearly half a million users so far. Juventus Live achieved a great success in terms of users’ appreciation: during the 2013-2014 Serie A championship 2 million of sounds have been reproduced, and over a hundred thousand social selfies (which are, in a nutshell, pictures that Juventus fans took and published on social networks to celebrate the teams results) have been shared."

Who is the typical user of your product or service?

"Our users’ demographics changes widely for each apps. For example, Juventus Live has been appreciated by male users aged from 25 to 55, whereas TOK Oscar recorded a solid 70% of female users. In general our platform can typically suit any sports and TV ‘appointments’, so our usage statistics are mainly influenced by the covered event."

What do you do for TOK.TV and what are you responsible for?

"As a Founder and CEO of a startup, I have a 360 degree vision on the company’s activities. From business development to sales and fund raising, and even software development. I cooperated in developing part of the apps back-end so I had the opportunities to learn using Lightstreamer myself."

Could you please describe your product/service that integrates Lightstreamer?

"Juventus Live is our first Lightstreamer-based project. The app makes Juventus supporters to create their virtual living rooms and invite up to three friends to talk about the games. Before and after the games, users can be updated about their favorite teams with the news stream while during the match they can see stats about the game.

Juventus Live displays live-updating stats for the game, enabling users to talk to one another in actual verbal conversation. A set of built-in sound effects lets you enhance your curses or celebrations."

What functionalities are powered by Lightstreamer?

"Both TOK World Cup and Juventus Live push real-time news, match information (e.g. the the live score during the match), statistics (e.g. a ball possession heat-map) and a text-based live match commentary powered by Lightstreamer.

We offered a human-driven textual commentary coverage of the entire 2013-2014 Serie A season for Juventus, and each of the 64 scheduled FIFA 2014 World-Cup matches in three different languages (English, EspaƱol, Italiano)."

Is your main application based on HTML or other front-end technologies?

"The official Juventus Live web application, which has been made available on the website during the latest Serie A seasons matches, is written on Javascript on the Client side, and Java on the Server side. Both Juventus Live and TOK World Cup have been released as native apps for iOS and Android."

How many concurrent users you recorded on Juventus Live?

"Juventus Live almost reached an aggregated peak of 100.000 concurrent users on Web, iOS and Android, running on a cluster of two Lightstreamer servers."

Do you use Lightstreamer for bi-directional data push?

"Yes, we use Lightstreamer to deliver data from clients to server, too. For example, the commenter updates the data on the matches sending Lightstreamer-delivered messages both for TOK World Cup and Juventus Live."

What other features of Lightstreamer are you taking benefit from?

"We implemented push notifications. Our soccer-related apps, for example, are enabled to send push notifications when the match starts, whenever a goal occurs, and for the final whistle."

Voice chat is certainly a unique feature, but how do real-time technologies enhance the user experience in this kind of apps?

"For, real-time data is a crucial feature especially for soccer fans who wants to be notified of a goal, and every millisecond counts. Although we already achieved great results using Lightstreamer, we keep optimizing our apps striving to reach an almost next-to-zero delay, thus offering an even more enjoyable second screen app.

Most of time, our data delivery bottlenecks are not strictly network-related. We have a third-party provider for soccer statistics, and a human operator who needs to press a “Goal” button as soon as a goal is scored. When the TOK server receives data, Lightstreamer pushes it smoothly."

Sport+Markt estimated over 17 million Juventus fan worldwide in 2008. Juventus Live app reached over 100.000 downloads in the first weekend, with enthusiastic feedbacks and flattering reviews. How wide is the potential market for sports-related second screen app like Juventus Live? Do you think other clubs will be interested in replicating this project?

"Juventus have 12 million fans on Facebook, and it’s reasonable to think that almost all of them have a smartphone and/or a tablet. Real Madrid has 66 million fans and counting. FC Barcelona and Manchester United 68 million and 51 million respectively, and many other clubs have a similarly wide fan base. The aggregated number is around a billion soccer fans, who would probably appreciate a branded second-screen app to follow their favorite team. This may represent a great opportunity for world-class football clubs and some of them, mostly those which have a wide fans distribution in geographical terms, are already expressing interest for TOK technologies.

From a wider perspective, the so-called Appointment Television (which includes live sports event, talent shows etc.) is acquiring a growing number of advertising resources. Pairing it with contents on mobile/tablet companion apps that are able to interact with the broadcasted commercials, it can drastically enhance ads’ effectiveness."

Is your product or service visible at any URL (publicly or registration based)?

"Juventus Live can be seen in action on the Official Juventus F.C Website, iOS and Android, with live commentary during the matches. TOK World Cup apps are available here."

Do you think that social networks (Facebook, Twitter) are proper environments for people who want to discuss sports events?

"Yes, can be considered a sports-focused social network. Talking generally, social networks are just one of the many ways to express emotions. TOK offers a more intriguing experience, allowing fans to talk or scream during the event without being forced to check the device. This also avoids the risk of missing the actions on the main screen. Our success so far just proved that people can appreciate a more proper tool when it’s available."

On your personal blog, you claimed that synchronized TV-ads with Second Screen contents are the living future. How fast the second screen advertising market will grow, in your opinion?

"It’s already a large and growing market, which still has to full disclose its potential. TV advertising is still a massive portion of the overall expense, whereas Web advertising’s growth trend is stable. The opportunity to put together an impactful commercial on TV with a more transactional, interactive experience on second screen can be a turning point for the advertisers. The key will be the role of the apps while watching TV: unsurprisingly, people need a good reason to have a device near the sofa."

What is the current roadmap of products? Which will be your next Lightstreamer based application?

"We are currently working on several sports-related apps with a similar formula (Lightstreamer-powered live data, a voice chat feature and some ‘social’ goodies), mostly for the U.S market. We are focusing on the college championships trusting these could be perfect for our technology, as NCAA Basketball and Football have a large number of followers, comparable to the professional leagues. Most college students keep supporting their university team for the entire life, but they often move after their graduation. TOK applications will be the perfect playground for former college mates to keep in touch and make some noise while watching their favorite team."

We would be very grateful if you would like to provide a short recommendation to testify your experience with Lightstreamer technology and its support team.

"Lightstreamer is an extraordinary tool that has been easily and successfully integrated in a short time within TOK second screen technology. It offered excellent performance on data delivery, and it concretely proved to scale efficiently both on tests and production."

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